Dredd 3D – Movie Review

Why the long face?
Futuristic lawman Judge Dredd was, for an eleven year old, the comic book equivalent of an OD. Not so much drawings on the pages of the galaxy’s greatest comic (2000 A.D., thrill suckers) as an assault on the senses: the sights of the rammed and chaotic Gehry-like city kept barely in check by a fascist police force with great toys… Here’s a trailer.

Dredd the movie nails at least one of these senses. The gggRRRRRR of Dredd’s lawmaster motorbike, the CHUCHUCHUCHUC of his foes’ railgun, and the KLANGG of the blast doors as Dredd and rookie accomplice Cassandra Anderson are locked inside a drug dealer’s hi-rise with 70,000 killers out for their blood are ear-dropping, and this is a movie that’s worth hearing as much as seeing. Taking our out-numbered (but barely outgunned; the iconic Lawgiver pistol Judges are kitted out with is a ballistic, balletic feast of rapid fire, hi-explosive, incendiary eye candy) heroes through the 200 floors of this urban cage on their way to a showdown with a committed gang boss, Dredd is a tightly planned, efficiently executed sci-fi actioner based on beloved source material.
As such it’s not without its problems. Stretched (or rather sketched) on a budget of less than $50million, (which barely gets you a decent footballer these days), this isn’t the Dredd of your mind’s eye. Everyone involved is clearly huge John Carpenter fans but while the Assault on Precinct 13 director could make a little go a long way he’s arguably too stark a touchstone for the bustling, psychedelic bad trip that is Mega City One in its pomp. Verhoeven’s Robocop had a similar budget for its time but its hysteria, humour and flair make it a superior rip off of ole’ stoney face. Vantage Point director Pete Travis is perhaps a little too cautious in his peering round the granite corners of the imposing skyscraper.
But then there’s the shots of the futuristic drug slo-mo. That this violent, bloody meat grinder features at its cold heart a death scene that’s almost tranquil speaks volumes for the contradictory nature not just of the film, but of the Dredd story itself. Already confirmed as a virtual proof of concept for more ambitious sequels, this is nonetheless as focussed and authentic an experience as a crosshair. It might not scale the heights of zarjaz, but it has the courage of its convictions.
Review by Rob Barker

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